As August ends and the warm weather persits, home gardens are still going full throttle. The cute, little tomato, cucumber and zucchini plants I optimistically tucked into the ground in the spring have exceeded all my expectations, and are beginning to overwhelm my kitchen and pantry. (Despite years of gardening for a family of three, I still over-plant every year and start begging neighbors to take my extras!) Eventually, my family begins to tire of the same three vegetables repeatedly.
If you have an overly enthusiastic garden this time of year – or, if you happen to be one of my neighbors – try out some of the following ideas to deal with excess garden produce.
- Remove skins and dice tomatoes. Freeze and use in place of canned tomatoes.
- Mix with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and other herbs to make a bruschetta.
- Remove seeds and skins using a food processor or tomato master. Make sauce into spaghetti sauce or tomato soup.
- Season and make sun-dried tomatoes using a dehydrator or the sun.
- Can to make dill or sweet pickles as slices, spears or whole pickles.
- Make bread and butter pickles in the refrigerator. No canner needed.
- Dice and use in a cucumber salad or Mediterranean salad.
- Peel and blend half a cucumber into your favorite berry smoothie for added nutrition.
- Dice and make a cucumber sauce to go with gyros.
- Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, onion, lemon pepper and use as a spread on cucumber sandwiches.
- Grate or slice and freeze to use in soups throughout winter.
- Slice and bake with cheese and butter or with tomatoes and chicken.
- Grate and make zucchini bread or muffins.
- Stir fry with onions, garlic, salt, pepper and other fresh herbs.
- Make zucchini ribbons using a vegetable spiralizer. Then lightly sauté to make zucchini ‘pasta.’ Serve with spaghetti sauce (You can even use the spaghetti sauce you just made from those tomatoes in your garden!).
Nature Interpreter, Winton Woods